We all are fully aware of the migration avalanche in Europe. Thousands, or, better, hundred of thousands emigrants try to reach Europe by sea, using even fragile inflatable boats. Obviously, a lot of persons are in distress and in need of being rescued.
Shipmasters obligation is to proceed to the assistance of those persons that are in danger at sea. (See UNCLOS 1982 and SOLAS 1974).
Further, states parties to above Conventions have the duty to guarantee that persons rescued at sea will be provided a place of safety, regardless of their nationality, status and the circumstances in which they are found.
A place of safety: “… is a location where rescue operations are considered to terminate. It is also a place where the survivors` safety of life is no longer threatened and where their basic human needs (such as food, shelter and medical needs) can be met. Further, it is a place from which transportation arrangements can be made for the survivors´ next or final destination”.
An assisting ship: “…should not be considered a place of safety based solely on the fact that the survivors are no longer in immediate danger once aboard the ship…. Even if the ship is capable of safely accommodating the survivors and may serve as a temporary place of safety, it should be relieved of this responsibility as soon as alternative arrangements can be made.” See Annex to the 1979 SAR Convention.
Protracted, lengthy disembarkation procedures must be avoided so that the vessel will be free to sail and comply with her owner’s commitments, avoiding by so doing financial damages.
Muñoz & Montañes provide regular assistance to P&I Clubs, Shipowners and Charterers to allow disembarkation of illegal immigrants onboard.